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21.04.2004 General News

NRC hears most ignoble story

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Accra, April 21, GNA- Mr. Panti Asare, Witness at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Monday recounted a story about brutalities he suffered from soldiers during the reign of the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

Mr. Asare said the soldiers arrested him wrongly instead of his brother, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Amoah, who he later got to know had duped the Secretary of the late General, then the Head of State. General Acheampong's government, the Supreme Military Council I, which came to of power through a military coup, ruled the country from January 13 1972 to July 5 1978.

Witness said he was unlettered and therefore, could not remember anything about the date but was emphatic the event happened during the Acheampong regime.

He said as a result of the brutalities he lost the left eye, and had vision impairment in the right eye, and scars all over his body, including one under his manhood.

Mr Asare, who has since stayed in Nsawam Djankrom, told the Commission that six soldiers forced open his hall when he was asleep in search of his brother, who then assisted people to purchase cars. He said they mistook him for his brother, and despite his protestations, he was kicked all over his body.

He added that the soldiers dragged him outside and kept on kicking him, demanding to know where his brother was. They eventually sent him to the Castle Guardroom, where he was detained for three weeks.

He said during the three-week detention, the soldiers who came on duty took turns to beat him, and attempted pulling his left eye, which popped out.

He said one Cpl Manfo saved him one time, only for another group of soldiers who resumed duty to start beating him again.

Witness said about a week to his release, a group of soldiers informed him the Head of State wanted to have audience with him, but rather took him to the Osu Public Toilet, gave him a container and ordered him to collect human excreta and dump it at the beach. He added that he was made to scoop with his bare hands, the faeces in the container after dumping it, adding that he was brought back to the Castle and the shameful action was repeated.

Mr. Asare said he was then given a bowl of boiled rice, and was asked to eat with his soiled hands. Witness said the soldiers then told him he was to have an audience with General Acheampong, but warned him not to disclose their brutalities to him.

" I was drenched in faeces, and was very weak, so I asked to be given a rag to crawl on to see General Acheampong who was very surprised see me in that state and asked that I should be taken back to wash down."

Mr Asare said a man he later got to know as Lawyer Tagoe had neat clothes to be brought to him.

He said he told the then Head of State of the brutalities he had suffered, and General ordered some drugs to given to him. Witness said he later got to know that Lawyer Tagoe had arranged for his release at the instance of his brother Kofi Amoah.

He said Lawyer Tagoe arranged for him for have treatment at the 37 Military Hospital but, he was later referred the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where an eye specialist declared that his left eye was damaged. Mr Asare could not produce any initial record of the hospital treatment, explaining that they got missing when thieves raided his house.

Mr Asare, who said he had been advised not to do any strenuous work medical grounds prayed the Commission to recommend any possible assistance for him.

Another Witness, Mr. John Kwadwo Taah, a younger brother of the late General Kutu Acheampong, told the Commission of the seizure of 21 of 36 cattle at Hwidiem belonging to the elder brother, 104 pieces of men's cloth soldiers seized and a sound system by one Lieutenant Sackey.

He prayed the Commission to recommend a compensation for the family.

Mr Taah, on behalf of the Acheampong Family prayed the Commission to establish the charge for the execution of the late General, and which court tried and found him guilty.

Mr Taah further prayed the Commission to recommend appropriate compensation in respect of a house at West Patase Estate, which he acquired from the then State Housing Corporation, for which he was made to pay for again after the June 4 1979 military coup.